UK Government Backs Down, Announces ID Cards Won't Be Compulsory

The UK Home Secretary Alan Johnson announced a notable turnaround over the government's contentious identity card plans when he precluded making the identity cards compulsory for all UK citizens.

The UK Home Secretary Alan Johnson announced a notable turnaround over the government's contentious identity card plans when he precluded making the identity cards compulsory for all UK citizens.

He said that the identity cards will now be made available to citizens on voluntary basis, implying that no individual will be compelled to have one, thereby making grounds for the plan to be abandoned altogether.

The Home Secretary also called off plans for making biometric identity cards compulsory for airport staffers at two airports, namely Manchester and London, which marked as the government's preliminary efforts in making the cards mandatory for all.

However, identity cards would be compulsory for foreign nationals staying in the UK in long-term, but UK citizens would have to request to the government if they want one.

Announcing the U-turn, Mr. Johnson said, “Holding an identity card should be a personal choice for British citizens - just as it is now to obtain a passport. Accordingly I want the introduction of identity cards for all British citizens to be voluntary.”

Besides, the government is going ahead with the plans of creating a national identity register, which from 2011-12 will include info of every individual who applies for a passport.

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Our Comments

The current recession has exacerbated the financial difficulties of the current government. With costs which were first set to reach £4.5 billion with the most pessimistic estimates putting it at £18 billion, it came as no surprise that the Conservatives wanted to scrap the whole thing altogether before costs spiral out of control.

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